With a flick of the switch Thursday at 5 p.m, PDT, a critical chapter in Silicon Valley will finally go dark.
That's when AOL officially moves out of the legendary headquarter buildings of Netscape Communications in Mountain View, Calif.--along Ellis Street and East Middlefield Road--to new, snappier digs it is subleasing from Google in Palo Alto, Calif., on Page Mill Road.
AOL will occupy one floor in the new space, while the first floor will be dedicated to start-ups and entrepreneurs.
AOL bought Netscape in late 1998 for $4.2 billion, and had located its office where the iconic but doomed browser company had made Internet history.
It was the spectacular August 9, 1995 IPO of Netscape that heralded in the dot-com boom for the Web, showering down wealth and fame on its employees, such as co-founder Marc Andreessen.
BoomTown came out to visit Netscape then, right in the middle of those glory days, and I will always recall its vibrant campus as a hubbub of activity and games that were the template for all other digital companies to follow.
No longer--AOL's new location, said the company's man-in-Silicon-Valley Brad Garlinghouse, is better for the future as it seeks to reinvent itself.
Netscape, as most know, is no longer used by AOL as a brand or supported technology.
"Fundamental to change at AOL is a cultural change," he said in an interview yesterday. "For good or bad, those buildings are full of ghosts and we need a new space to start a new chapter."
Plus, the new space is closer to the train and a lively street life (you can see a rendering here).
"AOL is trying to reestablish its tech presence, as we grow," said Garlinghouse of the more than 200 employees in the area. "This is part of that."
AOL's new HQ is the former headquarters of Agilent Technologies and Garlinghouse said Symantec will take over the old Netscape space.
The beat, as they say, goes on.